Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Wall Map Goes Magnetic

Micha's had this giant wall map ever since I moved in with him and, while I always like the colors of the map, I was never really satisfied with how it was hung on the wall with push pins that had to be restuck every month or two because the map would slip a few centimeters and the corners would rip just a little bit as gravity took its toll. Plus, I thought it would look a heck of a lot nicer with a frame.

Fast forward five and half years later and I finally did something about the map. To jog your memory, here's how the map used to look, back when it was on the other side of the wall.

Nice colors, no? But the push pins and saggy corners? Not so much. (The first picture in this post really demonstrates the sad sagging I'm talking about.)

So I devised a plan to first mount the map on some kind of large piece of wood/foam board/something so that it would hang flat and we could do away with the push pins once and for all. Which is where we ran into the first snag in my plan. Picking out and buying the giant piece of MDF was no problem. But when we brought the thing out of the Baumarkt and over to the car, we quickly realized that there was no way of getting the 163 cm x 109 cm (oh yeah, I came with very precise measurements) board into the trunk of the Mini (while a tiny-ish car, it's trunk is not actually that small).

After a bit of back and forth about what to do - I could walk with it home! It's only 1.5 km... Maybe we could get it on the tram?... Who could we call...? - we finally agreed that maybe, just maybe it could fit in a bigger car. So Micha trekked his way to the nearest DriveNow car while I waited around with the board, and then, lo and behold, it just barely fit!

Seriously, a few centimeters wider and I'd have been walking it home. Somehow... (Glad we didn't have to find out how!)

When we finally got it home, it was time to get down to business using the other item I'd gotten at the Baumarkt: magnetic paint.

I won't lie to you. I had high hopes for this magnetic paint and it kind of let me down. Not in that it didn't work (it did!). But rather, it was really the most difficult paint I have ever used. And on top of that, while I knew from reading other bloggers' experiences with magnetic paint that I'd need at least 3-4 layers of it to get a magnetic effect, I completely underestimated how much paint I'd need to paint that many layers (I ended up doing five) on this giant board.

I naively got the small can thinking, it's not like it's a whole wall! Oh, self from 2 months ago, how silly you were.

Two hours and two layers of paint later, I promptly returned to the Baumarkt  to buy another, full-sized can of paint. At this point, my dreams for a cheap DIY magnetic map were dashed and I came to terms with the fact (amid Micha's laughter) that this would just be a cool magnetic map that cost me 55€ in supplies. Live and learn, right?

And then Christmas happened and the magnetic board sat around like a sad old museum piece for a month and a half.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I decided it was high time to mount the map to the board, so I busted out the spray adhesive I'd gotten just for the occasion and, once again full of high hopes, went through a thorough process of spraying the board, then unrolling a small portion of the map, sticking it on, then spraying again, unrolling, sticking, and on and on. I applied plenty of pressure, then left it for a while to dry and came back a bit later only to find out...

... the darn thing hadn't stuck at all! You could just peel it right off! Hopes dashed again! The weird texture from the magnetic paint - it's bumpy from all the small magnetic pieces in in, but we paint over it with another color because we like the gray so much (laziness may also have played a role...) - meant the spray adhesive was a no-go.

I was ready to throw in the towel but luckily, Micha was not so easily dissuaded. He busted out the super glue - yup, super glue - and suggested I go over all the edges with super glue because it's super glue! It works on everything! And sweet valley high if he wasn't right! (It also stuck to all of my fingers and caused me to rip out entirely too much of my hair with said sticky fingers but what can you do?)

So after 1.5 tubes of super glue, much cursing, and then a few cautious tests to see if it really truly stuck, and some cheers and high fives once we realized it did, the only thing left was to nail it to the wall (we'd pondered other hanging methods, but this seemed the easiest and most secure).

And tada! The "frame" I'd been longing for around the map!

But wait there's more... magnets!

Oh, do I have big plans for this map now... :)

Quick tips if you want to make one yourself:

1) Painting over the magnet paint would certainly make a smoother surface and then the spray adhesive would probably even work.

2) Get a sturdy, but not too thick piece of MDF (or whichever material) for the backing. We went with 5 cm, which made for easy hanging.

3) Buy the super strong magnets - I got these guys that work like a charm, because regular magnets didn't really hold, even with 5 coats of paint.

4) Don't compare the final price to that of a new map. It's the charm of the old one (and in our case, Micha's love for his map) that counts.

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